John Rocker

John Rocker peddles “the Holocaust wouldn’t have happened if the Jews had guns” nonsense

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Here’s your quarterly reminder that former baseball person John Rocker is a sick and/or crazy person.

Rocker has devoted his latest column on that right wing website he writes for to gun rights stuff. Which is fine in and of itself. Gun rights are a hot topic these days and there are a lot of reasonable positions one can take on the subject even when vehemently disagreeing with someone else who is also offering an alternative reasonable take.

Unfortunately, Rocker is not offering a reasonable take. He’s peddling second-hand talking points from crazy people:

“Absolute certainties are a rare thing in this life, but one I think can be collectively agreed upon is the undeniable fact that the Holocaust would have never taken place had the Jewish citizenry of Hitler’s Germany had the right to bear arms and defended themselves with those arms.”

Despite this being a popular talking point by some on the right wing, this is demonstrably false. Gun ownership was never widespread in Germany, even when there were few if any controls on people’s rights to own firearms. To suggest, then, that the Holocaust was made possible by the lack of armed Jews is pure nonsense on the facts alone.

More significantly, Rocker’s nonsense here downplays if not ignores the fact that it was not some tangential gun policy that led to the Holocaust, but the actual policy of implementing the Holocaust which led to the Holocaust. Jews were not targets of opportunity by the Nazis, seized upon because, hey look, they’re unarmed. They were intentionally and systematically targeted for persecution and extermination by the government, which had millions of troops under its command, armed with state-of-the-art weaponry. To suggest that some “Red Dawn”-style uprising would have prevented the Nazis from committing their crimes against humanity is pure, facile revenge fantasy, the likes of which can only be espoused by a person who has no experience with persecution.

Or maybe it’s worse. Perhaps Rocker and his ilk really don’t think that armed Jews would have stopped the Nazis and, instead, are cynically using the Holocaust as a prop in the latest act of political theater. Perhaps they view the Holocaust as a useful and emotionally-laden example with which to guilt, shame or manipulate their opponents in a modern day political dustup.

If so, it’s more despicable than it is ignorant. Way more despicable than anything the younger Rocker told Jeff Pearlman in that interview that got him into trouble back in the 90s.

(link via Deadspin)

Reid Brignac is trying to become a switch hitter

LAKE BUENA VISTA, FL - FEBRUARY 26:  Reid Brignac #4 of the Atlanta Braves poses on photo day at Champion Stadium on February 26, 2016 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Rob Carr/Getty Images
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Veteran utilityman Reid Brignac is in camp with the Astros on a minor league deal. The 31-year-old is close to being done as a major leaguer as he owns a career .219/.264/.309 triple-slash line across parts of nine seasons. In an effort to prolong his big league career, Brignac is now attempting to become a switch-hitter, MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart reports.

I’m going to try it out this year. It was something that I just thought long and hard about and I was like, ‘OK, I’m going to try and see how it goes.’ I used to switch-hit when I was younger off and on, nothing consistent. I could always handle the bat right-handed. I play golf right-handed, so I do a lot of things that way that feel natural.

I just want to get to the point where I’m trying to stay in games, not get pinch-hit for, not starting games because a lefty is starting. … That could help me stay in the games longer. I’m trying to add a new element. I play multiple positions and now if I can switch hit and be consistent at it, then that can only help me.

As Brignac mentions, he’s also verstile. He’s a shortstop by trade, but has also logged plenty of innings at second base and third base, and has occasionally played corner outfield.

There aren’t any examples — at least that I can think of — where players began switch-hitting late in their careers and actually succeeding in the major leagues. As the saying goes, you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. But here’s hoping Brignac bucks the trend.

Video: Andrelton Simmons makes a heads-up play to catch Carlos Asuaje off first base

ANAHEIM, CA - AUGUST 03:  Andrelton Simmons #2 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim returns to the dugout after scoring in the second inning against the Oakland Athletics at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on August 3, 2016 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images)
Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images
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Angels shortstop Andrelton Simmons fell off the map a bit last year due to a combination of the Angels’ mediocrity, Simmons’ lack of offense, and a month-plus of missed action due to a torn ligament in his left thumb.

Simmons is still as good and as smart as ever on defense. That was on full display Monday when the Angels hosted the Padres for an afternoon spring exhibition.

With a runner on first base and nobody out in the top of the second inning, Carlos Asuaje grounded a 2-0 J.C. Ramirez fastball to right field. The runner, Hunter Renfroe, advanced to third base. Meanwhile, Asuaje wandered a little too far off the first base bag. Simmons cut off the throw to first base, spun around and fired to Luis Valbuena at first base. Valbuena swiped the tag on Asuaje for the first out of the inning.